Gmail 'fails' again - but not if you're prepared

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How to get your Gmail even when it’s down.

The headlines were ominous – Google’s Gmail service has crashed leaving people without their email. But it wasn’t a problem for anyone who was prepared for an outage.

While it’s true that Gmail had problems last week, but not everyone was affected, a point that most media reports either ignored or buried.

The Gmail web interface was broken but not access via POP or IMAP.

Gmail has several different ways to access the email stored on the servers. The web interface is the most obvious and prominent one, but there are others that you can use from Microsoft Outlook or other email programs.


In addition Gmail has an ‘offline’ mode where you can work on your emails in a browser window even when disconnect from the Internet. When the net connection is restored, new mail sent and received from the Gmail servers.

Even if you prefer to use email via a web browser, it’s prudent to have a backup method of access on standby. This isn’t just for Gmail, but for any email host.

Email is so important for most people; it’s a good idea to have fallback methods of sending and receiving messages.

Murphy’s Law as applied to email: “Your immediate need for email service is inversely proportional to the reliability of the service at that time”


Alternative access

If you use Outlook to get your email, make sure you know how to send and receive email by a web interface too. Any email service should have a web browser option – ask the service provider for details and test it for yourself. Armed with that knowledge you can access your email if Outlook breaks or you’re away from your computer.

If you mostly use a web interface to get email, setup a POP or IMAP alternative in Outlook.


Gmail

You need to set this up before a problem occurs because the initial POP settings have to be changed on your Gmail settings pages.

Google has a page on how to setup POP access in Outlook and other email programs.

They also have instructions for IMAP synchronization, but Office Watch has its own, more comprehensive how to guide on IMAP.


Hotmail, Yahoo etc

For other popular webmail services, check their help pages for details on other access options that might be available.


Mail2web.com

Mail2web.com is one of the free online services that will grab your email via the POP system and display it in your browser. Gmail users could have used this site during the recent outages if, and only if, they had enabled POP in their Gmail account already.

 

In our view Google is taking an unfair hit in terms of reliability. Any outage is a problem and any large system will have downtime, not just Google. However Google’s prominence means any glitch gets heavy media attention. In addition Google seems to be a victim of its own honesty. With last weeks problem they admitted the outage and explained what happened which is candor that should be applauded not used as fodder to attack the company.

No matter who is hosting your email, you need alternative methods of accessing your account or at the very least, sending messages.

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